Saturday, January 30, 2010

Of Mountains and Freedom

Up until living here in Ancash, Peru I liked hiking, I liked the outdoors and liked outdoor activities but it wasn’t something I thought about a lot. Or thought I needed. Now, I really can’t get enough of it. It would not be an exaggeration to say that my backyard is basically hill upon hill upon mountain upon lake of naturaleza of Huascaran National Park. When I go on my morning hike, I can walk up only 30 minutes are get rewarded with views that make me want to fly. Where before I was really proud to climb Half Dome, now I’m setting my sights higher, want to test my abilities, want to climb and explore more. When teen girls in my site describe a hike up in the mountains as just a “day hike” I yearn to be like them, to be like a mountain goat and just go!

I can really say that Shilla, Ancash is the most beautiful place I have ever been in my life and I take every chance I get to point that out to my host familia (who have seen it everyday their whole lives as well as the rest of the inhabitants of Shilla and thus have no idea that they are actually living in a gem). My little 3-year-old niece Itzl now points it out to me “Tia Emily! Mira! Shumaq nubes!” (Look, Aunt Emily! Beautiful clouds!) These are the moments that it so easy to feel a part of this town, so easy to feel myself becoming not just a passerby, but someone who is intricately connected to the nature and the people here.

Last week some fellow Peacecordians hiked over to Shilla from the other side of the hill where their pueblos are to visit and to get some delicious menu in the nearby Carhuaz. When I returned back up my dirt road to Shilla (a 30 minute trip no mas) I got to ride back in the back of a small truck! (finally!) Which just basically means standing up holding on to the bars and absorbing the shock of the bumps in your bent knees so as not to get jolted out. It was slightly raining and I was the only gringa in the back (so of course there were lots of stares and smiles) and I felt the most free I have ever felt in my life. I realized I didn’t know what freedom was before. Sure, I am part of a government program and therefore have certain goals and meetings to uphold to, however I am pretty much left to my own creations and ideas when it comes to projects and what I want to do on a daily basis. When I need to put a bookshelf in my room, I get to measure it; when I want to start projects, I make the contacts; when I want to explore, I just go! This experience is simply the most liberating one I have ever had. Maybe it’s just my age or the first time not having to answer or tell someone where I am or what I’m doing… but it tastes good.

This weekend we have Quechua classes in Huaraz, which I’m very excited about. One of my goals (besides hiking everyday J) is to be able to speak this language that I never even knew existed before last April (when I found out I was going to Peru). I now even get text messages in this language!

Hasta pronto, (can you believe January has already passed with lightning speed?) cuidate!

Abrazos Fuertes,


Friday, January 22, 2010

Peacecordian Duties

Hola a todos! Just writing a little note to let everyone know I'm still alive, well, and kickin' it in Shila. :) January and February are the summer vacation months here so I've been teaching summer school! (vacaciones utiles they call it) I teach bracelet making and "English" (I embed other things in my "English" class.. it's mostly named that just to get kids to come) and now everyday I have about 30 students (who are mostly around the age of 10). I also have been teaching a Vocational Orientation class in which I have five alumnas (female students).. to focus on how to get a job, how to get into the universities/institutes around here in Ancash. Manana I'm going to take a field trip with them and go to the neighboring town to interview some professionals. I hope it goes well! Other than that, I've been hiking, playing cards with my familia, learning more Quechua and thinking of projects to do when the school year starts up again in March. Here are some fotos of recent happenings:

Playin' Spoons! My Mountain (or so I feel when I look at it :)

The pulseras (bracelet) estudiantes On a hike with the host bro!

Helping out the Fish Farm... in short, Peacecordian duties are never what you expect!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Feliz New Year!

For New Years in Peru the thing to do is wear yellow underwear. Apparently it brings good luck if you wear some especially while the clock is ticking down to midnight. Everything is yellow, not just underwear.. there were yellow balloons, yellow stuffed animals, yellow food, (this is where the Peruvian Inca Kola... the soda pop of Peru... is handy because of it's trademark bright yellow shade) yellow TODO. :) Another Peruvian tradition is to eat 12 grapes at midnight.. thinking of a wish as you eat each one.. that's 12 wishes people. I couldn't even think of that many so I just basically said the same couple of wishes over and over again. For our Peruvian Peacecordian New Years we had the company of some of our fellow 13ers who live in different departments.. and it was simply amazing, spectacular and fun! We had some hiking adventuras, made some delicious dinners, saw some beautiful Ancash lakes and even got to go.. horseback riding! That's right! :) That must have been the highlight of our couple of days ringin' in 2010.. for me anyways. It reminded me of Riverside.. except with greenery and stunning views of huge snowcapped mountains... pretty much the same, no? :)

It's recently the start of vacaciones for the jovenes (youth) here in Peru. (They get January and February off for their summer vacation)... we'll be doing an art class and some jewelry making and I'm planning on planning for the library projects I'd love to do, some Vocational orientation classes for the high school kids and planning an Environment Club with one of the primary school profesoras. Since things are flexible in terms of my time now and the craziness of December has come to a close I'll have more time to go hiking around my town and explore mas as well... we Ancashinos voluntarios also get to have some Quechua classes during these months which will be.. EXTREMELY helpful in my learning of this idioma that I never even knew existed 8 months ago... we shall see if I even get to become at least to a conversational level knowledge. That's my goal anyway.

In other noticias, I'd just like to say that I can't believe it's already been 7 months in Peru and every day I'm learning something new about this country, Spanish, Americans, how to cook, culture... the list keeps going. I look forward to this new year knowing that by the end of 2010 I will have learned so many more things that I can't even fathom right now even if I tried. So, happy new years to todos! I hope it's going to be a great one.

abrazos fuertes,